THE CHANGEMAKER

Meet Alessandra Albertini, Founder of The Minu

Tell us a bit about your brand and what you do to drive sustainability?

Nearly all of our products are made of Econyl, a nylon fabric made from abandoned fishing nets and other industrial waste. The beauty of Econyl is that it retains the same quality and performance as traditional nylon but comes with the added bonus of being entirely recycled. Whatsmore, the regeneration process can be repeated endlessly, meaning that a fishing net can become leggings and later something else, in an unending cycle of reimagination. The Econyl brand was created in Italy and is certified and patented, which ties in well with our desire to produce everything in the country. This allows us to ensure both a high level of quality and attention to detail, as well as keeping the country at the forefront of sustainable practices and ethical manufacturing. Our sustainable ethos also extends to our packaging, which is entirely plastic-free.

What’s your biggest business accomplishment so far?

Being able to create a product that perfectly reflects my vision of a sustainable, high-performance, Italian brand that is full of colour and fun. I personally practice a lot of sports and yoga and I was tired of wearing monochrome outfits. I wanted something that was more “powerful”, original and at the same time, sustainable. In Italy, compared to the rest of the world, activewear is still a “niche” product, as is the issue of sustainability, which is still woefully under-appreciated. I feel immensely proud to have combined these two aspects and generated real interest and curiosity where many others have failed to do.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned in your work?

That what typically appears to be a simple triviality often ends up teaching me the most important truth! There is always something new to learn and, if you don’t give up, you’ll come to realise that the most beautiful things can come from mistakes. For example, The Minu’s Astrid Lush or Astrid Juicy Leggings have become our best sellers (and, incidentally, are my favourite pieces!), and they were undeniably the result of a happy accident. We had to make a sample but we did not have enough printed fabric, so they produced a sample combining Lush fabric with a piece of leftover plain fabric from the workshop. As soon as I tried the result, I immediately fell in love – with the fit and the feeling but also with the fact that they were a truly original creation of mine that were both fun and very recognisable. From there, they went into production and I can confirm with great satisfaction that they are now one of our best sellers.

In your personal life, what do you do to be more eco-responsible?

I am a believer in making small changes to create a big effect. In this vein, I limit water consumption and all wastefulness, I am very attentive when it comes to recycling and, finally, I am always careful to make conscious purchases.

What do you do to disconnect?

Yoga helps me a lot because it is a discipline that, on the one hand, allows you to know and listen to yourself and, on the other hand, accept your limits and recognise areas to improve. Originally, I was not a great sportswoman – far from it! – and at school I was renowned for doing everything I could to get out of the Physical Education class. However, I then met my boyfriend who began to introduce me to sports and, most importantly, helped me to understand why people choose to engage in them. Doing sport does not necessarily mean having to win every competition, but instead is about training the body to achieve greater well-being for itself and the mind. Now, I would definitely not class myself as an athlete, but I can say that I love doing sport in many of its forms. It helps me to let off steam, to disconnect my mind and, above all, to focus on myself. After physical activity I immediately feel better and I am far more productive! After a disconnection there is always a better connection. Ultimately, sport has taught me to love myself.

Your favourite place to be in nature?

I love the sea and mountains and would struggle to choose between the two. However, there is something truly special about the mountains during summer that might give it the edge. There is a stillness and tranquility that gives me a unique sense of peace, and makes them the perfect place to go if I want to relax. One of the greatest joys I take from living in Italy is seeing the seasons change, as each passing one brings an array of new smells, colors and lights. 

What are your go-to sustainable brands? 

If I have to choose something unique, I love Vernisse! If I’m looking for something easier, I go for Reformation whilst for outdoor/technical sporting gear, it absolutely has to be Patagonia.

If you could share any advice for someone looking to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle? 

There are lots of useful tips out there but as I said before, the most important thing is awareness. We should all get more accustomed to asking ourselves questions about what we are buying, such as where does it come from? What materials are used? Where is it produced? What impact could it have on the environment?. We need to take greater responsibility for finding answers to these questions before buying.

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